The Federal Government has said that at least 7,000 artefacts that were stolen from the Benin Kingdom are expected to be repatriated by Germany to Nigeria not later than October 2021.
This follows the advanced stage of discussions between Nigeria and Germany on the return of thousands of different pieces of Benin bronzes back to the country.
This disclosure was made by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, while speaking at the Inaugural Nigerian Cultural Show exhibiting Nigeria’s diverse cultural heritage, sites and traditional festivals held at the Cultural Centre, Nigeria House, New York.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Aduda said the reparation of the artefacts would go with building an ultramodern museum in Edo and the training of some curators who would manage the artefacts.
What the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs said
“We are working with relevant MDAs, we have had several high-level meetings with the Republic of Germany and we are at the stage where thousands of artworks are to be returned to Nigeria.
There are over 7,000 different pieces of artefacts that the Republic of Germany wants to give back to Nigeria. We have talked deep into this that the reparation is not only at giving back, but they are coming to put a modern-day museum in Edo State and they are training 25 curators that will man the museum for sustainability.
We have gone far and we are thinking that this will be concluded in October this year. We are hoping it will be a window to reach out to other European countries to return to us what was taken from us years back.’’
The permanent secretary commended the Consulate-General in New York for inaugurating in April, a Culture Centre and Library, equipped with books, cultural artefacts, research materials and historic documents on Nigeria for public use.
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What you should know
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had about a week ago said that the Federal Government will take possession of the 1,130 looted Benin bronzes being expected from Germany, in line with operative conventions and laws.
This reaction follows the controversy about who should take possession of the expected artefact between the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II and the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
While the Oba wanted the stolen artefacts to be returned to a museum to be built within the Palace premises, the governor showed a preference for a private trust to take custody and manage the artefacts.
It is also coming after the German authorities had earlier announced it has started the process of returning looted Benin Bronzes plundered in the 19th century.